Robert Birming

Creative Greatness

I recently watched the documentary Gisèle Freund, portrait intime d’une photographe visionnaire and one of the scenes featured photographs taken by Gisèle during the celebration of the French National Day in 1954. The images were captivating, perhaps the most fascinating ones from that event. However, not a single photo captured the celebration itself.

Instead, Gisèle turns completely around and points her camera at the spectators. She captures their facial expressions and their tricks to see better. One person has jumped up on someone's shoulders, another has pulled out a periscope.

Magnificent photographs! They make it feel like you're actually there.

Is it because of her camera, or perhaps she studied photography like crazy? No, of course not.

All it took was a different perspective. She chooses to capture the viewer instead of the viewed, and suddenly magic happens. We are thrown back in time and yet feel connected, like part of the audience.

Perspective. From the Latin word perspicere, 'to look through'. Maybe that's the key to creative greatness: to see past the usual and into something more. A distinctive way of expressing oneself that evokes a response in the audience - a connection, something familiar, something that strikes a chord on a profound level - a glimpse of the unrefined beauty of reality.